Qn. What is the target of your ministry to ensure universal water coverage?
Everyone has the right to access water. For example, areas like Rakai and Isingiro districts where it is even hard to get water from underground, we have brought in the use of technology called bulk transfer to transfer water from River Kagera to be supplied to those areas. Also, we are planning to erect boreholes using solar panel which will be cost free for users to serve the whole village. We have also taken up the responsibility to repair them because sometimes they break down and the communities cannot repair them. We shall ensure that at least every radius of two 2km, there is a borehole and public stands shall be installed in towns. This is all intended to achieve the 100 percent target of distributing water in the whole country.
Qn. How do you plan to achieve that?
Shs736bn has been set aside to drill boreholes in villages and we have tasked National Water and Sewerage Corporation to connect majority urban centers. The NWSC should be affordable for our people. No one should sell a jerrican of water at more than Shs50 which makes them even more opportunistic. The other thing I want to appeal to local leaders is to ensure that they repair boreholes whenever they break down. We use a lot of money to construct these boreholes but you find a borehole lying idle because of minor repairs.
Qn. Do you think this will deliver Uganda to universal access to clean water by 2030 as mandated SDG goal six which dictates that all states to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”?
We will attain this goal before 2030. We have water coverage in urban areas at 77 per cent and in the next five years, it should be 100 per cent. We want to increase access to water in rural areas from 65 per cent to 80 per cent. This is premised on that fact that the country halved the number of people without access to clean and safe water as was required in the previous UN set Millennium Development goals. And basing on that performance, Kibule says, will be easy to attain. It is my humble appeal to government to consider the strategic position of MWE in the country’s development ladder and appropriate the necessary resources.
Qn. What are some of the challenges facing the ministry of water and environment?
Deforestation, wetland encroachment and poor maintenance of boreholes.
Qn. How are you ensuring that wetlands are protected?
We are trying to; To ensure clean water in our villages, sources like wetlands, rivers and lakes have to be maintained. What are you doing in this regard? You remember the government cancelled titles in wetlands and anyone in the wetlands will be evicted. But we are studying how to do this. What happened in the past is that settlements in Uganda were not defined. Some people settled in wetlands not knowing that it is illegal. But there are those who settled there after the 1995 constitution and damaged the wetlands. For those that build in wetlands, we will make sure that they pay for damaging them.
But there those who are using wetlands for economic activities like fishing or to growing rice. As for today, we are studying how to enforce but we are not allowing new settlements.
Qn. What is the state of hand washing in Uganda?
We have started with schools where we have established clubs to champion hand washing. Our problem now is rural hand washing and we are going to establish committees which are going to be home based. For example, using radios to sensitise communities and use local governments to establish Barazas for community empowerment.